It was both impressive and depressing at the same time. I spent a part of this morning at a massive South L. A. warehouse which is the home to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. Everything from canned goods to zucchini to apples to cereal to oranges to juice to bread, you name it, all organized, catalogued, and ready for distribution. Trucks coming and going, volunteers packing ‘em up to bring to churches, shelters, you name it.
The latest figures from the food bank say that they provide service to about 1 million people a year in Southern California, and like food banks everywhere, the need is growing and meeting the demand continues to be a challenge. The worry now is that the state’s Central Valley farmers, ravaged by the ongoing drought and leaving fields fallow, will not be able to donate nearly the amount of fresh produce, fruits, vegetables as they have in years past.
"Produce is one area that’s grown significantly for us and other food banks. As recently as seven years ago it was one percent of the food that came in. Now it’s about 20 percent of the volume that we cover ‘’ , according to Michael Flood, President and CEO of the food bank. You can find out more about the operation at www.lafoodbank.org There is no clear way to make up for those kinds of numbers if donations are way down as they’re expected to be. Buying food is one option, but that will require even more fundraising than they already do.
On a smaller scale and from a different perspective on this problem, I also spent some time at the Pierce College Farm Center in Woodland Hills, where Robert McBroom proudly showed off the new black plastic they’re using to line their furrows to prevent evaporation, as well as the newly configured drip irrigation system that waters their 12 or so crops much more efficiently. Here, what they don’t sell in their retro style market open to the public at De Soto and Victory they donate to service organizations like “”MEND”” in the Valley, which stands for ‘’ Meeting Each Need With Dignity’’. Food is definitely a need, and meeting that need is going to be a challenge for they many groups that do such important work for those who are less fortunate.